Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Discover nature...Lose boredom for life...

What is the future of the Langholm chicks...will they stay clear of the dark side (Mordor)
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/07/29/2013langholm-hen-harriers-on-their-way-but-to-kind-of-what-future/

Very bad spell for our butterflies...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/23327715

Kestrel shot in Yorks...
http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/kestrel-shot.html

A great walking based tourist company on Mull...they focus on experiencing the wild areas of the isle and all the species that come with it...anything from Eagles, Otters, wild flowers and invertebrates. 
http://www.mullmagic.com/

On the Monday my brother Tom and Heather arrived on the isle for a spell and were on board Tuesdays whalewatch where we had a group of Bottlenose Dolphins working the north coast of Mull. A sneaky Minke whale was seen later on surfacing a few times in among the waves. 
Danny was up to his usual tricks as he attempted to climb the railings and fell flat on his back with his legs up in the air in front of a laughing audience! I had to explain to all the passengers that he was from a special school for the day and it was a nice change for him from playing with worms in the garden. Very pleased Tom got to see some good cetaceans as he has had a love for animals his whole life. 

Storm Petrel off the bow... 


BND approaching our bow...

Some fantastic Skua action in the next couple of days including a huge increase in Arctic's this year and some Bonxies in bully mode harassing Kittiwakes with intensity. I know a girl who works in marine conservation who severely dislikes Skuas because she said they have a fearsome nature and a savage approach to catch their prey. I told her 'you must hate Orcas then'...she soon pipped down after that...Skuas didn't evolve over millions of years to be masters of oceanic avian piracy to be referred to as 'horrible animals' by some conservation coach potato...back to your sofa there's a good lass.



Rhub nan Gall lighthouse through the trees... 


Rhub Nan Gall...

Headed to Croig on Wednesday evening with Danny and Jayne and we got a good Dog Otter feeding well. Ringed Plover and newly fledged Black-headed Gull also seen along with a pregnant Hedgehog on the path back. On route home and I bumped a Red Deer hind with my car and it was a good job I was going slow as it could of been terrible on both fronts. Barn Owl in flight near Dervaig was other highlight.


Garden Tiger Moth...

Cruise ship in on the Saturday and we did short trips to cater for the big demand of 50 plus on each 2 hour. Amazing trips with Bottlenose Dolphins showing superb on both outings! Gorgeous elderly people on board who had a great time and were very enthusiastic...love old people. The Cruise ship was called Balmoral and I couldn't help thinking I bet there as many birds of prey on that ship than there is on the estate itself...apparently a royal baby has been pupped?...no one cares.
I met Gordon Williams on the evening as he was up for a few days and good to catch up with him...follow his great blog here...http://www.westhighlandwhites.blogspot.co.uk/


After picking passengers up from Balmoral Cruise ship we got straight onto BND! 


BND off Ardmore...


On the Sunday I headed to Calliach point on the north west tip of the isle to do a sea watching session. Jimbo and Winky had seen Orca and Rissos the day before so there was always a chance. I was staked out by half 7 and in the first hour I had 12-15 Bottlenose cruising past the point heading south then I scoped 3-4 Rissos Dolphin off the east side of Coll heading south as well! It went flat after that but enjoyed some wild flower ID work and the scorching sunshine approaching mid day.


Sea watching at Calliach point...

Sunset from Calliach...

Bog Asphodel

Ragged Robin

Common Cotton Grass...

Harebells in Glen More

Thanks for looking :)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Verging on Disgraceful...

A waste of time?

A waste of money?

A waste of good habitat?

A waste of food source for a large variety of species?

Decreasing the visibility on corners and providing clearance for potential road accidents are the biggest reasons behind the control of verge meadows.


I was previously enjoying the colour and the beauty on my commute to and from work...

Why?


Read more about the 'tidying' of verges on Mark Avery's blog including comments below...http://markavery.info/2012/06/08/cut-deep/

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Bangor bird club

A bit of Success for Harriers just above the borders with two pairs producing ten chicks this season...
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/07/11/hen-harrier-success-at-langholme/

BT Divers getting help from artificial nest rafts built by conservationists...
http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/Black-throated-diver013.html

BT Diver confirmed shot by Scottish Loch...

Fieldwork is getting harder at this hectic time of year as I am flat out with boat excursions so difficult to find free time. The abundant midges also restrict your stakeouts to shorter periods as I hope for calm winds for the days boat trip but am preying for a bit of breeze on the evenings to keep the Scottish Midge 'smidgees' at bay. 

I haven't been doing much photography recently with the main focus being wild flower ID work on my camera phone. I managed to get a few cetacean shots on recent SLS trips which can be seen below...


Common Dolphins approaching Sula Beag

After a 7-10 day spell of strong winds and moist weather a very welcome high pressure came on the week beginning 8th July. It was wonderful to have my Uncle Alistair and Cousins Becky and Zoe up for a couple of days as they timed it just right with the weather to come on board the Whalewatch on the Monday and be involved with a great trip consisting of 5-6 Minke whales and two separate groups of Common Dolphins.



Mirror calm sea creating reflections, good for photography

On the Tuesday it was another Whalewatch with a great sea state has we headed out. Great to have Danny here for a couple of weeks helping as crew on board. Minke whales could be seen along way off with a couple of animals breaking the skyline on the horizon. The forecast fog closed in on us in the afternoon and visibility dropped to 200 yards at one point. The sounds of fog horns could be heard around us from moving vessels. 





Breaching Dolphins with the Cairns of Coll in the back drop

Wednesday was short trips and solid fog making it very difficult to see any species. The highlight was 5 minutes in when we saw a fogbow which is very fine water droplets which are too weak to display a colour spectrum, sometimes the red can be seen on the outer edge as was the case with this display.



Eye contact...

Thursday was another of those memorable trips with sun, calm seas and an abundance of wildlife including 7-8 Minke whales, Common Dolphins, Eagles, Porpoise, Stormies and an island landing on Coll. A familiar whale was seen again now called 'Wrinkle' which has been seen in the same grounds on three occasions. The whale has distinctive wrinkly marks on the left side of the animal with his/her right flank still needing a photo ID record.



Wrinkle is a whale with wrinkly streaks on his/her left side and has been seen at
least 3 times this season...photo courtesy of Ruth Molloy

Minke whale surfacing off Coll


Strong belts of fog rolling into the sea...


Fog bow...water droplets are so small so weak colour spectrum, often just displaying white

Saturday was another whalewatch and we headed north with Lewy on the helm. The skipper saw a Minke off Ardnamurchan but no one else picked it up so we carried on round the peninsula. We landed for Lunch on the isle of Muck and were greeted by the new legendary Herring Gull called Steve! He is very arrogant and lands on the boat on arrival and is very comfortable around people. He has a partner called Sandra who sits at a distance as she is quite timid and shy. Watch out for a Steve the Herring Gull Facebook page coming soon...

In the second half we made passage over the grounds of the reported minke sighting in the morning and presumably the same animal surfaced right next to Sula Beag giving everyone on board a fright! Good Golden Eagle action was another highlight on the trip.



Andy Tait filming Steve...

There was a queue at the Muck tea room...Three highland ponies fancying a bit
 of carrot cake


Tobermory at Dawn...
Thanks for looking...

Friday, 12 July 2013

A countryside criminal...

Back in February this year (2013) I was on the Solway with Cain and on our way to do a stake out for a winter Hen Harrier roost we got a phone call off Andrew Jake who was doing some fieldwork to the south in the Penrith area. 
Andrew was disturbed having found a crow trap in an enclosed woodland containing three Common Buzzards trapped inside. 

Cain and I altered our plans and headed down to the scene where immediate action was taken to alert the local wildlife crime unit to take over proceedings. It was an upsetting sight to see these beautiful birds of prey confined and suffering like this and it was a difficult decision to let the raptors go for their own welfare or leave them be and provide a potential chance to capture and prosecute an action of illegal persecution which is so intense in the region and country as a whole.

As a few months passed, in July it was made public that gamekeeper Colin Burne was captured on a camera trap killing these Buzzards like it was a routine operation. He pleaded guilty and received a 70 day jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, if not for the 64 year old's ill health the judge would of given him jail time. A very soft sentence again, I am sure the judge will have got some free shoot days out of it though. 

Well done to Andrew for his field work discovery, he has written a brilliant piece about his experience which can be read on his blog here http://andrew-jake.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/persecution.html

Also great work by the RSPB investigation team for managing to capture the illegal actions and hopefully help bring to light what goes on in large areas of our countryside. How about showing the disturbing video below to every RSPB member to encourage over a million people to fight for our birds of prey and push for stricter laws in place...starting with putting a signature on this government petition... 

e-petition for licencing of upland and grouse moors and gamekeepers ... http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46473


One of the Buzzards captured on my camera phone...


What is sacrificed for the hobby of shooting?



A criminal in action...

Different versions of the media report...

Raptor Politics - http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/07/09/seventy-day-prison-sentence-because-this-criminal-claimed-he-was-too-ill-to-go-to-prison-he-received-suspended-sentence-judge-for-yourself-after-viewing-the-video-was-the-sentence-appropriate/

RSPB - http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/349360-cumbria-gamekeeper-pleads-guilty-to-killing-buzzards-illegally

Wildlife Extra - http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/buzzard-trapped.html

News and Star - http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/cumbrian-gamekeeper-clubbed-trapped-birds-of-prey-to-death-1.1068598